Mass Incarceration

Reclaiming our New Jersey: A transformative vision for the future

After I began on the ACLU of New Jersey in September of 2017, one of many first challenges we confronted was a push from the bail bond trade to halt the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Act — laws applied that January to overtake bail in New Jersey, mandating a presumption of launch for nearly all defendants — that was handed beneath Gov. Chris Christie and loved overwhelming help from the general public.

We centered the experiences of impacted neighborhood members, educated the general public, and appeared in federal court docket to make sure that bail reform may proceed as a essential change in equity — all a part of an extended decarceration motion that we’re nonetheless preventing for at present. Because the regulation went into impact in 2017, data shows that bail reform worked: The pretrial jail inhabitants is down with none significant improve in critical crimes.

The ACLU-NJ has all the time been within the vanguard of advocates pushing to advance racial and social justice — resistance within the face of our objectives is nothing new to us. We’re pleased with our function in New Jersey’s rise as a nationwide chief in increasing and defending civil rights.

With our companions, we’ve expanded access to driver’s licenses so that every one certified drivers can get one, no matter immigration standing. We’ve pushed for thousands and thousands of {dollars} to be allotted to a publicly funded program that gives access to counsel for people who are detained and facing deportation in New Jersey. We’ve taken the historic motion to end new, expanded, or renewed contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We’ve legalized and decriminalized marijuana in a means that prioritizes reinvestment in our communities. And when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on New Jersey’s prisons and jails, we mobilized to get greater than 9,100 folks released early from their sentences, which saved lives and confirmed the pressing want — and constructive influence — of decarceration.

These victories took years of built-in advocacy and partnered management to attain within the face of opposition — and generally virulent backlash. However in New Jersey, we don’t draw back from a struggle. And in all these circumstances, a standard aim to prioritize justice meant motion may rise above rhetoric.

That is the daring motion that New Jersey is thought for.

Lately, there was a push from lawmakers to get “tough-on-crime,” regardless of knowledge exhibiting that violent crime in New Jersey is trending downward. A collection of newly introduced bills would improve felony penalties beneath the guise of bettering public security and roll again the hard-won success of bail reform — reminding me of the opposition we noticed to the exact same regulation again in 2017. And even in his State of the State tackle, Gov. Murphy referred to as for legislative motion to extend felony penalties, enable for extra harmful police chases, and increase surveillance within the title of addressing automotive thefts, which have been on the decline for a number of months.

It is a misguided strategy. There isn’t any indication that we have to erode bail reform or create extra felony penalties to advance public security. There may be no data to support the notion that rolling back bail reform will reduce crime rates, and there’s no proof to counsel that enhancing penalties for issues which are already criminalized will function a deterrent.

Criminalizing extra issues will solely lead to extra crime in our statistics — an unjust and self-perpetuating cycle. There shall be extra arrests, which can result in requires greater police budgets, which can result in extra police presence in communities already affected by the impacts of mass incarceration and over-policing. And let’s be actual: This won’t influence all communities equally. Black and brown communities bear the brunt of aggressive policing and its dangerous, typically lethal, penalties.

We already know the outcomes of fearmongering for political achieve. From the failed drug war to the 1994 federal crime bill, insurance policies rooted in concern and racism devastated communities of colour and gained the U.S. notoriety for having the very best charge of incarceration and the most important jail inhabitants on the earth. Historical past has proven that we are able to’t criminalize our approach to public security and that tough-on-crime insurance policies don’t work. It’s time to time to alter the established order and be sure that our politics serve all New Jerseyans. An excessive amount of is on the road: We can’t afford to gasoline one other period of mass incarceration.

This dangerous backlash to felony authorized system reform is one we acknowledge — and we all know voters acknowledge it, too. Pushing again towards this cycle of fearmongering repeatedly peddled by politicians is important to advance racial and social justice for generations to return. It’s this cycle of concern that has stored the consequential items of laws that we’re preventing for to gather mud on lawmakers’ desks, like payments to provide transparency for police misconduct, put an finish to extreme pressure techniques, and empower communities to arrange civilian grievance evaluate boards with subpoena energy.

We should reclaim our imaginative and prescient for a simply and equitable New Jersey — one which prioritizes racial justice, facilities the voices of those that have traditionally not been totally protected by our methods and establishments, and leads the nation in defending and increasing civil rights.

We should not let concern or self-serving political motivation lead us to repeat a dangerous historical past of criminalization that can gasoline over-policing and mass incarceration. As a substitute, to really enhance public security, lawmakers should prioritize social and racial justice — and that begins with passing laws to put checks on police energy. New Jersey can’t declare to worth justice and the dignity of all till it prioritizes folks over police.


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Tha Bosslady

CREEDD (Creative Resilient Empowered Entrepreneurs and Diversified Dreamers) is a dynamic and purpose-driven platform that I founded with a deep commitment to empowering individuals facing adversity. It serves as a sanctuary where people can find solace, support, and valuable resources to navigate life's challenges while uncovering their true potential. My personal journey of enduring loss, tragedy, and life's complexities propelled me to establish CREEDD with a profound understanding of the human spirit's resilience. Having faced the heart-wrenching loss of my daughter to gun violence, my stepdaughter's survival after losing an eye to domestic violence, and witnessing my only biological son receiving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime, I am no stranger to life's darkest moments. In addition to my own struggles, I experienced health challenges that led me to undergo a tracheotomy. The most devastating blow came when my stepdaughter and granddaughter tragically lost their lives in a horrific car accident. Yet, it is precisely through these trials that I gained invaluable insights and unwavering determination to inspire others. CREEDD is more than a community; it's a lifeline for those seeking hope, inspiration, and empowerment. By sharing my personal story and the lessons learned, I aspire to ignite a spark of resilience within every member, encouraging them to rise above their challenges and embrace their unique journeys. At CREEDD, we believe in the transformative power of storytelling. It is through these stories that we connect with others who have endured similar struggles, creating an unbreakable bond of understanding and support. Our platform fosters an environment of empowerment, providing resources, educational content, and opportunities for personal growth. Our ultimate goal is to leave a lasting and positive impact on the lives of those who join CREEDD. We envision a ripple effect of change, where individuals find the courage to rewrite their narratives, rediscover their purpose, and lead lives filled with resilience and fulfillment. Together, we form a community of diverse dreamers, each on their unique path of transformation. At CREEDD, we embrace growth, uplift one another, and become beacons of hope. Join us on this transformative journey and witness the power of unity, compassion, and the unwavering pursuit of living life on purpose, no matter the adversities we face.

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